When the list of chefs to be featured at the new Miami Beach outpost of Time Out Market was announced, food enthusiasts knew immediately that it was going to be a hit. From my visit earlier this month, I can vouch for its success, both in popularity and in operations. With heavy-hitters like Norman Van Aken, Jeremy Ford and Michael Beltran plus pastry chef Antonio Bachour and vegan chef Diego Tosoni among others, the 18,000-square-foot space with over 20 restaurant counters and bars is the best place in town to get a taste of Miami while only having to park the car once.
The Time Out Market in Miami Beach was the first to open outside of the franchise's original location in Lisbon. Now, other Time Out Markets following the same "the best of the city under one roof" philosophy are open in Boston and New York (a Chicago market will open later this year). Beyond the restaurants and bars, the space also contains a "digital art gallery" space, a live entertainment stage and a demo cooking area plus a spot in the front for merchandise.
I visited the modern structure on Drexel Avenue in the heart of Miami Beach on a Saturday afternoon and expected to be fighting throngs of people for a spot to sit and eat. But there's ample seating in the middle of the large, open hall, and the vibe inside felt more relaxed than many food halls I've been to.
The first thing we did was visit the bar in the center of the space for a $16 craft cocktail before perusing the offerings to plan our attack strategy. With libations in hand, we strolled the perimeter, deciding on two appetizers, two entrees and two desserts to round out our meal. I highly suggest this to food hall first-timers. It's all too easy to be enchanted by the first menu items you see at a location and filling up quickly before having a chance to visit another hotspot. Take a turn, survey the options, and then curate.
For appetizers, we settled on ham-and-swiss croquetas from chef Alberto Cabrera's much-beloved Cuban restaurant the Local as well as grilled octopus with pureed sweet potato from the Peruvian counter, 33 Kitchen. Both were divine, but it was the mayo/mustard combo sauce that came with the croquetas that had me dipping over and over again.
Norman Van Aken's Beach Pie, a wood-fired pizza concept, was our choice for one of the entrees. We chose the Spain Meets Italy pizza, which combined spicy cured meats with dried figs for a delicious sweet-salty eating experience (if you're wondering if I dipped the crust in that mayo-mustard croqueta sauce, the answer is: of course I did). We also opted for Top Chef alum Jeremy Ford's take on a Korean fried chicken sandwich, which was a perfect mess: creamy sauce, crispy batter, juicy chicken thighs and crunchy kimchi pickles. So good.
Dessert is essential here, and while we had settled on two desserts in our planning, it was impossible not to add the buttery Breton pastry, kouign amann, from Bachour to make it three. There were no regrets. We also chose the cafe con leche ice cream from Calle Ocho's most-famous creamery, Azucar, as well as a coconut cream-flavored, layered dessert from Bachour.
While it might not be the place you'd want to visit right before donning your swimsuit and heading to the beach, the relaxed atmosphere and (thankfully) chilly air conditioning and ceiling fans do make it a place you'll want to hang out in a while. Who knows, maybe you'll sit and chat over local J. Wakefield beers long enough to work up an appetite again.